Maine moose calf befriended on Facebook dies

RANGELEY — An orphaned moose calf born last summer in the Rangeley area died Thursday of an infection.

Peter Riendeau, Facebook

South Branch Suzie, from her Facebook page

A preliminary examination of the body showed a high infection rate of lungworm, which contributed to the moose’s death, said Deborah Turcotte, spokeswoman for the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife.

Lungworm is occasionally found in young moose, state wildlife biologist and Mammal Group Leader Walter Jakubas said.

“Lungworms are a type of parasitic ringworm found in the lungs where they lay eggs that hatch into larvae,” he said.

Larvae are picked up by moose while feeding on vegetation in the wild.

“Moose with lungworm infections can develop pneumonia that can severely compromise function of their lungs,” he said. “There is no risk to humans from lungworm.”

The moose calf was named South Branch Suzie by Saddleback Mountain ski resort residents who would see her on ski trails, often in the South Branch skiing area, and walking through the community.

South Branch Suzie had her own Facebook page, with 1,093 “friends” as of mid-afternoon Friday when the report of her death was released.

“The Berry family and all of us here at Saddleback are heartbroken to hear about the passing of South Branch Suzie," JoAnne Taylor, resort marketing director, said Friday by e-mail.

"We’d hoped that she’d be returned to Saddleback in the spring, rehabilitated and truly wild again," Taylor wrote. "It is very sad news.”

Turcotte said Maine District Game Warden Reggie Hammond had hoped the orphaned moose would find other moose and assimilate with those living around Saddleback Mountain. But that didn't happen. 

“Remaining in the wild is almost always what’s best for moose and other wildlife,” Turcotte said.

However, after a few weeks of showing a high level of habituation to people at Saddleback, Hammond asked Strong wildlife biologists Chuck Hulsey and Bob Cordes to capture the moose and transfer it to a rehabilitation facility to ensure its safety and that of the community.

“She was becoming too accustomed to living near people and one night was almost hit by a trail groomer,” Turcotte said.

On Dec. 29, 2010, the moose calf was chemically immobilized by Hulsey and Cordes, and with the help of Hammond and volunteers, taken to Second Chance Wildlife Inc. in New Sharon.

“The move to the rehabilitation center was the best solution for trying to help the young moose through the winter and prepare her for a return to the wild,” Turcotte said.

Department wildlife biologists said the calf was becoming acclimated to her surroundings and feeding on natural browse.

However, she was slightly thin at the time of capture and likely entered the winter in poor condition, Turcotte said.

On Thursday, South Branch Suzie was transported from Second Chance Wildlife to the Department's Bangor Research Office for an animal autopsy, known as a necropsy, by Dr. Anne Lichtenwalner, University of Maine Cooperative Extension veterinarian. 

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Jan Bachelder's picture

Just some facts...

Three parasites can cause mortality in moose in Maine: brain worm, winter tick, and lung worm. Moose infected with brain worm almost always die, but winter tick and lung worm infestations rarely kill moose.

If an animal is suspected of lungworm infection, there are many ways to detect this parasitic infection such as performing one or more of the following techniques: a complete medical history including lung auscultation (stethoscope examination), doing a chest xray, examination of fecal examination for detection of ova or larvae, examination of respiratory secretions for ova or larvae, and/or a complete blood count (CBC) to check for signs of increase in eosinophils

Lungworm infestations can cause significant distress to the animal but are usually treatable with drugs. Oxibendazole is commonly used as a prophylactic against these and other nematode infestations.

If infected with lungworm parasite, an anti-parasite drug must be administered.

In the case of a severe reaction, an anti-inflammatory drug of corticosteroids may be given for a brief period (3 to 10 days).

Moose calf

Tron, why are you always so negative about anything posted by the SJ. For you to blame anyone and everyone for things is getting to be total BS. I have bitten my tongue long enough. You apparently are a nobody who just likes to blame everyone for things that can not be controlled by you. Second Chance Wildlife (from everything I have read and seen) has been doing amazing work to help those animals who CAN be helped. Apparently this poor moose calf was beyond their help. This was a wild animal, who is supposed to be a WILD animal. Do you actually think that every wild animal should be tamed??? Nature took it's course with this poor moose and unfortunately nature won....Have you even bothered to do any research before you post your hasty comments??? Think and do your homework before you post things.....

Martha Burnell's picture

Typical

For those who are not familiar with Tron/Dan, this is very typical of his posts. Must be he thinks Second Chance is somehow connected to republicans.. they are the main object of his hate.
To be.. there probably isn't a vaccine for this type of thing. If I recall correctly, this moose hasn't been in the care of the rehabbers all that long. I suspect if the damage wasn't already done by the time they got her, it was probably well underway.

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